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Switch – Nils Petter Molvær returns with new album and tour

By Tomas Lauvland Pettersen Posted: 26. Mar, 2014

Trumpeter/composer Nils Petter Molvær is back with a new album, ‘Switch’, and heads out on an extensive European tour this week.

28 March marks the release of trumpeter/composer Nils Petter Molvær’s new album ‘Switch’ (Okeh) which introduces a new line-up, a new musical approach and a newfound fascination for pedal steel guitar. Molvær’s new compositional approach with the sound of his trumpet blending with the timbre of the steel guitar gives his new output a renewed sonic palette.

Says Molvær: – I have been thinking about using the pedal steel guitar for some years now and, finally, the right time arrived with this new project. This is a change of sound and direction that gives a more melodic line to my sonic universe.

Molvær finds a new musical and narrative approach on each album, but the guiding light that shines through all his work is the search for the optimum balance between the synthetic and the organic. The new CD “Switch” marks a new climax in this continuing search. Once again, the ingenious iconoclast operates simultaneously in two worlds and on several temporal planes. His complex sounds, some electronically generated, others acoustically elaborated sonic worlds that have an uncannily electronic sound, sends him into a future of urban globalisation, while he retreats with the sound of slide guitar and his own folk-tinged improvisations into a little village remote from metropolitan life.

Molvær has brought together pedal steel guitarist Geir Sundstøl, pianist Morten Qvenild and drummer Erland Dahlen to form a new band, with the slide guitar playing a central part. – I knew from the start that I was going to use a slide guitar, comments the trumpeter and composer. – I was on the brink of buying one from the noted Norwegian guitarist Stian Carstensen myself. Then events took a different course. I’ve known Geir Sundstøl for many years. He is one of Norway’s most in-demand musicians and was really keen to work with us on this. When he began to play, I was enchanted by his sound from the start and knew I had to make this album. I’m not so much in search of my inner reservations on this record as I was on earlier albums. I’m more interested in finding the right way to package particular things. This disc is more peaceful. Perhaps I’m mellowing with age.

Molvær certainly sounds uncommonly relaxed on ‘Switch’. All the trumpeter/composer’s previous albums were characterised by an insurmountable inner polarity between an extremely peace-loving individual and a radical provocateur. This time, the trumpeter is looking for other contrasts, but the expression of his personality reflects a far more homogeneous whole. – I had some battles to fight with myself on the way to this music, admits Molvaer. – When we finished recording, we had over 150 minutes of music, for which we had to find a focus. There is a tribute to Joni Mitchell, specially in the titles of the songs. Many of those titles make direct allusions to her lyrics. This train of thought was sometimes more important to me than the melodic aspect.

A major part in this endeavour was played by Erland Dahlen, percussionist on Molvær’s penultimate album ‘Baboon Moon’ and promoted on ‘Switch’ to omnipresent multi-instrumentalist, whose complex soundscapes form the basis for the band’s concerted sound. Pianist Morten Qvenild from the band In The Country represents another star turn from Norway’s current jazz community for Molvær’s ensemble.

Switch will be released on March 28, immediately followed by a European tour. March 28 also marks the re-release of a major part of Nils Petter Molvaer’s back catalogue exclusively on Okeh: Recoloured, NP3, Streamer, ER, Remakes and Re-Vision.

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